Fourth Sunday of Easter John 10:1-10 11.5.14

5 05 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage John 10:1-10

Need to Know

  1. The first five verses are so easy to understand. Why did ‘they … not understand what he was saying to them’?
  2. How do you picture this gate: as a kissing gate, a barred gate, a security gate?
  3. Who is the gatekeeper? If Jesus is the gate, who is the shepherd? Any mileage for some Trinitarian theology?

Need to Challenge

  1. What does this shepherd’s voice sound like? (‘they know his voice’)
  2. How might this abundant life be experienced?
  3. Who are the bandits and the thieves not entering through the gate?

Need to Comfort

  1. The shepherd knows every sheep’s name? What name might he/she call you?
  2. The wolves are outside. You’re behind the gate. How good is this gate?
  3. It sounds as if finding pasture is guaranteed. Do we trust this shepherd?

 

 

 





Second Sunday of Easter John 20:19-end 27.4.14

21 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks would be great

Gospel Passage John 20:19-end

Need to Know

1. Is Thomas’ final statement the climax to this story? Why is it so dangerously radical?

2. Why is the phrase ‘stood among them’ – it’s repeated twice, so important?

3. Low Sunday. People need extra ‘brownie points’ for being in church today. How may you bless them?

Need to Challenge

1. Us who are sent need to be clear about the consequences of retaining the sins of others.

2. Thomas was only being scientific. We all need to see the evidence. But is the proof of the ‘Christian’ pudding in the eating?

3. Where are we being sent?

Need to Comfort

1. ‘Peace be with you’ is not a ‘nice’ saying. It is an instruction from God telling peace to come to you.

2. The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples without them asking. But it is ok to ask as well.

3. Us ‘the cup is half empty’ ones may be those who Jesus is referring to as those  ‘blessed’ (v 29)

 

 





5th Sunday of Lent John 11:1-45 6.4.14

1 04 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Gospel Passage John 11:1-45

Need to Know

1. Jesus is glorified in this passage. Trace the stations towards this glorification.

2. Why did Jesus add ‘and the life’ to his announcement that he is the resurrection?

3. What is the role of blame in this passage?

Need to Challenge

1. Here in Kidderminster, we have concerns that some of our congregation go from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday without seemingly considering what happens in-between. How might this journey to death and the grave encourage a different response?

2. Where are the disciples when Jesus goes to Bethany? Did they go? Or do they not ‘do’ sadness?

3. To what extent is Martha’s belief an important factor in this story?

Need to Comfort

1. Why is it important to know Jesus cried?

2. Despite the sadness there is still resurrection.

3. Despite seeing this raising of Lazarus not all the Jews who see it believe.

 





Fourth Sunday of Lent – John 19:25b-27 30.3.14

24 03 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Mothering Sunday

Need to Know

  1. What are the issues around Mothering in 2014? You might want to visit: http://www.mumsnet.com/
  2. Who is doing the mothering in this passage?
  3. Why did this disciple need to take Jesus’ mother into his own home?

Need to Challenge

  1. What might Mary be doing at the cross? What’s helping her stay there?
  2. For Christians is blood always thicker than water?
  3. If you give flowers out in church this day – who do you give them to and what message are you giving to those who do not receive?

Need to Comfort

  1. What might Jesus say to those of us who miss our mothers particularly on this day?
  2. What might Jesus say to those of us who know others are missing their mothers?
  3. Mother’s Day is often guilt day about failing as a mother. How might we help deal with this guilt?




Third Sunday of Lent – John 4:5-42 23.3.14

21 03 2014

This is another welcome contribution from the Reverend Jan Ashton.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great

Jesus and the Woman at the Well

Need to Know

  1. John spends some time setting the scene. How important is this? And what are we not told? In imagining the scene, how long did they spend at the well, how old was the woman?
  2. Who ‘got it’? Who ‘didn’t get it’? Why might this be?
  3. It’s a long reading especially if it’s read just in one voice. How might you encourage people to listen well?

Need to Challenge

  1. How wonderful to have within us living water? How is this water life changing?
  2. Thanks goodness the disciples didn’t spoil the atmosphere and criticise Jesus for talking to the woman. They kept silent. When may our silence be crucial?
  3. Who is/are taken out of their comfort zone the most in this passage? And what was the result?

Need to Comfort

  1. We need to be truthful to ourselves and to God in our prayers. Why is this good news?
  2. Jesus seems to go out of his way to interact with these Samaritan people. Why is this good news?
  3. We are labouring in many of our churches. Who might be seeing the reaping? Why is this good news?




Lent 2 Nicodemus John 3.1-17 16.3.14

15 03 2014

Sunday’s gospel is the story of Nicodemus.  The Reverend Jan Ashton has sent me these thoughts, which I am delighted to share.

I would warmly welcome other guest contributions by email to stephen.cherry@durham.anglican.org . Also, offers to write sermon starters for a period of, say, a month or six weeks woud be great.

Need to know

  1. Why Nicodemus chose the night?
  2. What else Nicodemus does for Jesus after this encounter?
  3. How many times does Jesus say the same thing but in different ways? Why might he do this?

Need to Challenge

  1. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner needed to be taken out of his comfort zone. True faith expects this.
  2. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner didn’t understand and ended up appearing a fool. Living the Christian life can make us appear this way. Accept it.
  3. Even Nicodemus, a leader, a teacher, a questioner, a lover of God needed to be born of the spirit. True faith needs to be constantly reborn of the spirit. What are you doing this Lent?

Need to Comfort

  1. You need confidence in God not yourself to have eternal life.
  2. You need to know Jesus’ job isn’t to condemn anyone or anything.
  3. God loves the world and that includes you.




Second Sunday of Epiphany 19.1.14 John 1.29-42

13 01 2014

Come and See

In this short and gentle passage we see how the ‘Jesus movement’ begins: looking, seeing, recognizing, following, finding and naming.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

1. What does the phrase ‘Lamb of God’ add to our understanding of Jesus?

2. Why do Jesus’ first followers call him ‘Rabbi’?

3. Why is there such an emphasis on the way that John comes to recognize who Jesus is?

Heart Questions

1. If Jesus asked you, ‘What are you looking for?’ what would you feel?

2. And what would you say?

3. What prompted Andrew to bring his brother to Jesus?

Hand Questions

1. What do verses 40-42 suggest about the way the church grows?

2. John ‘testifies’.  Do you?  If so, how?

3. If not, why not?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





Second Sunday of Christmas 5.1.14 John 1. 1-18

31 12 2013

Grace and Truth

John folds as much theology as possible into the opening verses of his gospel.  Each and every sentence could launch a thousand reflections, sermons, meditations, prayers and questions.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What is your favourite alternative to ‘word’ as a translation of ‘logos’?
  2. If you had to prioritize ‘grace’ and ‘truth’, which order would you put them in?
  3. How significant is the contrast with Moses in verse 17?  (Does it continue into verse 18?)

Heart Questions

  1. Which verse, or phrase, from this whole passage, resonates most powerfully with you?
  2. Do you feel that the writing here is philosophical or poetic?  Is it head stuff or heart stuff?
  3. How do you feel about the John the Baptist sections here?  Do they fit and help the whole, or are they interruptions?

Hand Questions

  1.  Are there any imperatives here?  Do you detect a “call to action”?
  2.  What does grace require of you?
  3.  What does truth demand of you?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you. That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands. Take your time.





Trinity Sunday 26.5.13 John 16. 12-15

19 05 2013

All Truth

This is a very short gospel reading. Its very brevity makes you wonder how many words it takes to tell the truth.

John 16. 12-15

Jesus said, ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.’

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Why can the disciples not bear the ‘many things’ yet to be said to them?
  2. Can you begin to imagine what ‘all the truth’ might be like?
  3. What does Jesus mean by saying that the father will ’take what is mine’?

Heart Questions

  1. How are the disciples feeling at this stage in Jesus’ discourse?
  2. Do you believe that the doctrine of the Trinity is something your heart can connect with?
  3. How do you feel about the idea that the three persons of the Trinity have the same heart?

Hand Questions

  1. What one action of yours could speak volumes of truth?
  2. What are the ethical implications of believing in the Trinity?
  3. What does the Spirit of truth require of you at this stage in your life journey?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.





Pentecost 19.5.13 John 14.8-17 [25-57]

1 05 2013

The Holy Spirit

Jesus is asked a question – but as usual the question is not good enough to get a direct answer. But fear not, the spirit of truth is coming.

John 14.8-17 [25-57]

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ 9Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

15 ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you …

25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Reflection

To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. Why do you think Philip asked that question (v8)?
  2. ‘Another Advocate’: what is your sense of the meaning of ‘paraclete’?
  3. What might it mean to do ‘greater works than these’ (v12)?

Heart Questions

  1. Do you find the prospect of the ‘Spirit of truth’ comforting – or is there a bit of threat in there for you?
  2. What do you feel about Father and the Son coming to make their home in you? Are you that hospitable?

Hand Questions

  1. Do you have a ‘Philip question’ in you that you need to ask someone?
  2. Can you identify the works that you do?
  3. Can you find one practical way to obey the commandment to love your real-life neighbour?

Finally

These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.